I just recently finished reading these two books back to back and LOVED them. (Maybe I should say rather, that I listened to them with Audible in snippets as I got ready in the mornings and drove kids thither and yon.) Anyway, as I thought about writing reviews about each of them, I realized that they are kind of inseparable, so that is why I decided to do a combined review.
Simon Sinek and I both agree that everyone is a leader. I don't care who you are--a big CEO, stay at home mom, or kid at school--you are a leader. Leadership is nothing more than exercising influence. We all do that. How we govern our homes, how we treat people at school, work, the grocery store, or even on Facebook, we influence the people around us one way or another. I can't count the times I have been inspired by a single comment or an action (sometimes by a stranger) that spurred me to do better.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action is geared towards people who want to grow their influence. It teaches that the leaders who inspire us the most, the ones that we would follow anywhere--those leaders know WHY they are doing what they do. In turn, their "why" resonates with something deep inside us, it is something we share and that is the reason we are willing to follow them. Those leaders without a deeper "why" are often not leaders at all; they are followers of trends, numbers and popular ideas. Their influence is diminished because their cause (to make more money, reach certain corporate numbers, get elected, etc) is uninspiring--they are no different than anyone else clamoring for our attention or efforts.
I read this book as I was preparing to start this website. Going through the exercise of writing down my "why" gave me incredible clarity. It steered me from fuzziness to clear action. It inspired me. If you have a message you want to share, a cause you want to champion, or another calling of some kind, I highly recommend this book.
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't could very well be called a sequel to the previous book. This book teaches that not only does putting numbers before people a rather despicable practice, but it is also not smart in a business sense over the long term. As business leaders treat employees like family, and create a place of safety, the company will actually see significant and lasting growth. Real leaders see money as fuel for worthy purposes, not as a destination in and of itself.
But this doesn't just work for business. This works in politics, in families, and all other types of organizations. Sinek explains in a very clear and easy to understand way, the biological reasons why certain actions produce certain hormones which then produce certain results. Chapter 6 in particular is extremely interesting, as I was able to understand on a biological level why "Raise the Good" is so important to me--it's the oxytocin that is released! When someone does a good deed, they get a shot of oxytocin and literally feel good. The receiver of the kind action also gets a hit of oxytocin. Even a third party--someone who merely observes or reads about the action also receives oxytocin. How incredible is that?!
Sinek also teaches about other hormones, and how the digital age, selfishness and abundance affects our brain. Though I disagree with him on some of his interpretations, I found this a highly valuable and informative book.
Leadership matters. It shapes our families, our communities and our world. There is a huge lack of quality leadership right now, but we have a chance to fix that as we look at our own leadership and teach the next generation. I get really excited as I consider that we are raising the leaders of the future, the ones who can make the world better than it is right now.
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